Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS | OPINION -

LAST week I at­tended the Na­tional Drought Sum­mit in Can­berra at the in­vi­ta­tion of the Prime Min­is­ter.

It as­tounds me that they hold these ‘show­case’ events to ‘solve’ the drought, when the an­swers are star­ing them in the face and they are sim­ple, cheap and for­ever.

For 105 years in Aus­tralia, drought and sim­i­lar calami­ties (eg mar­ket col­lapse) were dealt with by debt re­con­struc­tion. It is very sim­ple. The gov­ern­ment bor­rows money at nor­mally half the com­mer­cial in­ter­est rates – cur­rently 3 per cent.

The gov­ern­ment pur­chases the bank’s ‘bad debt’ and the mort­gage ”at a dis­counted price” – this be­comes a tax write-off.

The Gov­ern­ment Re­con­struc­tion Fund does not re­quire re­pay­ments un­til the drought ceases and the mar­ket re­cov­ers.

So where a farmer might be $115,000 a year on the re­pay­ments for a $1 mil­lion loan (about 5 per cent in­ter­est), un­der ‘Ru­ral Re­con­struc­tion’, they would be pay­ing $25,000 a year.

Sec­ondly, if North Queens­land was its own coun­try, we would be the wettest coun­try on earth.

Imag­ine a straight line drawn on the map of Aus­tralia from Ten­nant Creek, through Mount Isa to Townsville.

Well ev­ery river and creek above that line floods each year.

If we are able to har­ness some of that wa­ter and use it for mi­cro-ir­ri­ga­tion projects such as that pro­posed un­der the HIPCo scheme (which pro­vides a tem­plate for 15 other ir­ri­ga­tion projects around the North Queens­land re­gion), then we can grow grass and fat­ten ox all year round.

To­gether, these so­lu­tions will en­sure that the farmer sur­vives, the breed herd stays in­tact year round, the in­dus­try re­mains en­riched and when the mar­ket or drought fin­ishes, and the farmer goes up onto com­mer­cial rates, the gov­ern­ment makes money. It’s a no-brainer. God bless,

BOB KATTER, Fed­eral Mem­ber for Kennedy

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